Hi all. Several months ago we were asked to submit an article for the Canadian Power and Sail Squadrons Spring 2016 edition of The Port Hole. The piece entitled “Reflections on a Simpler Life”, highlights our adventure aboard R.E.D. last summer.
We are proud to finally be able to share it with you in its entirety in both French and English as it appeared in the April 2016 edition of Canadian Yachting and L’Escale
We hope you enjoy.
As Chief Communications Officer
I have been tasked to prepare a summary of our adventure.
We have given you a pictoral overview in our daily posts
and I will add specific locations to our blog map when time allows
as Captain François has kept a detailed daily log.
Our impressions are subjective,
and are coloured by the day, our mood, the time of year,
lack of rum and cold beer,
and may not be those of what others have experienced.
They are however specific to our boat, our lifestyle and our own expectations.
Our planning before departing was not detailed.
We knew starting point and destination
but that was the extent.
We knew approximately how long we wanted to be away.
We bought appropriate charts for the trip to supplement our GPS charts.
We provisioned (notes have been made to bring more of some things and less of others)
We packed (far too many clothes – I lived in the same pair of shorts for a whole month
and we honestly can’t remember the last time we wore shoes)
We polled friends both real and
virtual (ie the wonderful online folks
who share our passion for boating,
whom we have yet to meet, some we met along the way
but who have been a constant source of information)
One of those wise friends said something that has stuck with me the whole way:
“On a boat there is no schedule, only anticipation”,
and to that I would add the only time a schedule is needed is for tide/current calculations.
(if you have been following along you’ve read about our Hell Gate experience)
Thinking of schedules brings to mind weather,
always a necessary part of any sailor’s daily planning.
We were extremely lucky in that regard.
Any heavy rain was usually at night
and even when there was no favourable wind/wind direction,
we pleasantly putt-putted along enjoying the view.
Our ad hoc way of planning suited us just fine.
Each place we visited was viewed as through the eyes of a child,
with excitement and wonder.
Even our afternoon at the laundramat was filled with giggles and really good gelatto.
Without exception, the people along the way were wonderful.
Helpful, kind, friendly.
There is something special about the boating community.
I hope that someday we can repay the kindness.
We will at the very least pay it forward.
A word or three about the Cruising License.
We have been told SO many stories from forums
and well meaning individuals.
Now, with first hand experience,
we are still just as confused as when we began.
Our experience was of it being mandatory regardless of size of boat.
We weren’t allowed to cross into US waters without it and our original boat documents.
We crossed paths with another Canadian sailing vessel who had just completed
the Great American Loop who had neither their original documents nor a cruising license
and has crossed to the Bahamas and back to the US as well.
We were given our papers at Rouss Point with phone numbers for reporting in
and specific instructions to call in whenever we had reached the next district.
This made perfect sense to us as sometimes anchored in remote locations,
cell or internet service isn’t always available.
Then one evening on reporting in we were told (in a very forecefull manner from Ms XXX, badge # XXX) that it wasn’t by district it was each time we stopped for the day.
So we complied.
During one of our ‘boardings’ by the Customs & Border Patrol,
I voiced our consternation.
‘Well, yes it is supposed to be by region
but just in case call in each night’
We were told that the license is for inland waters only
and that once entering Lake Ontario
reporting was no longer needed,
just the usual border crossing calls.
Then when reporting in for the ‘last time’
at Oswego, New York
another Ms XXX, badge# XXX told us that Lake Ontario was still considered inland waters.
So we complied
and called again the next night
and were asked why we were reporting in because Lake Ontario
and all the Great Lakes was not considered inland waters.
There were no more incidents of “boarding”
either US or Canadian
and our entry back to Canada was a breeze,
The agent I spoke with actually had a marvelous sense of humour.
When I told him we were bringing back no American beer,
his response was:
So there you have it.
…1264 nautical miles covered
…54 days away on the boat
…123 glorious hours of sailing
(including R.E.D.’s baptism in salt water)
…61 locks passed
…3 boardings by US officials
…once in a lifetime opportunity to join with the Hermione flotilla in NYC
…one anchor dragging (of no consequence)
…one intentional beaching
…one incident of drained battery requiring entering a marina under sail
…many new friends made.
…countless memories to last a lifetime.
The last lock passed today
Captain François took the helm,
bringing his two ladies,
and the Pig,
Lake of Two Mountains welcomed us…
and at 10:45 we crossed our wake
passing Buoy H33…
We may be home,
but our adventures are not over…
…not by a long shot!
The lake level is much lower than when we left,
and our dock space was overgrown with water lilies,
rudders scraping the weeds as we entered.
Wonderful welcome home none the less.